Unilever opens global Centre of Excellence for Drinks

Colworth Science Park, 14 May 2008: Unilever, the world's biggest tea company, opened its global R&D Centre of Excellence for Drinks in the United Kingdom.

Focus on beverages with real benefits

This technology centre will focus on developing new products for all Unilever's branded beverages such as Lipton, PG tips, Becel/Flora, Brooke Bond, Knorr Vie, Adez and Slim-Fast. The centre employs 90 product developers and technology specialists from 15 countries and brings together all Unilever's beverages experts in one place, enhancing an already world-class capability through direct interaction.

Annual R&D budget

Using some of the near €50 million budget that Unilever dedicates to R&D drinks annually, the key task for this team of experts will be to create drinks that deliver real health benefits and taste great, but that are also convenient and affordable – from weight management teas to cholesterol-lowering milk drinks and yoghurts. To develop these products, the centre will focus on bringing out the natural taste and health benefits from plants such as tea, fruits, vegetables and soy.

Bringing technology to life

Phil Evans, Director of the new Centre of Excellence Drinks, stated at the opening: 'We know from experience that some of the most exciting innovations are born out of fusions between consumer and technical insights. Unilever has both of these; we can really deliver our promise of taste, health, and convenience through our products and we are passionate about bringing our technology to life for the benefit of drinkers of all Unilever's beverages."

Strong technical capability

To deliver these products and make them stand out from the competition, the Centre will build on the strong technical capability expected of the world's leading tea business; in tea manufacturing technology (taste quality and goodness from bush to cup); in drinks ingredients technology (providing natural ingredients with health benefits); and in drinks packaging (innovative packaging formats that are convenient and act as a 'silent salesman' for the product benefits).

Supporting top brands

Unilever's R&D capabilities in drinks to date have supported the rise of Lipton to become world's number one tea brand (and the world’s second largest branded beverage) and that of PG tips, the UK’s number one tea brand, with innovations like the pyramid tea bag, Ready-To-Drink teas, tea products with weight management benefits, and natural leaf tea that brews in cold water so consumers can make fresh ice tea without having to wait hours for it to cool down.

Other drinks innovations based on these R&D capabilities include Flora cholesterol lowering milk and yoghurt drinks, Knorr Vie fruit and vegetable mini-drinks and our popular soy-based fruit juice Adez.

More information

Caspar Nixon 

Media Relations Unilever UK 

Tel: +44 208 439 6256

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